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Environmental Group: “How do Torontonians Benefit from Paying Polluters and Harming the Environment?”

For Immediate Release
November 11, 2011

Toronto: Proposed changes to the City’s water and waste budgets will reward polluters, harm the environment and cost Torontonians money, says a local environmental group.

“Yesterday the City’s Budget Committee agreed to subsidize water rates for companies in Toronto that pollute,” says Heather Marshall, the Toxics Campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “How does it help the environment or taxpayers if companies that pollute get cheaper water rates?”

Marshall noted that industrial water users currently have the option to get discounted water rates if they create water efficiency plans and don’t break the City’s water pollution by-laws. The new policy would cost the city at least $1.6 million annually in lost revenues by giving the discount to polluting industries and it will likely mean higher costs to the city to monitor and treat pollution.

The budget committee also adopted two controversial recommendations that will hurt Toronto’s recycling efforts.

“The budget committee wants to eliminate Community Environment Days in 33 of the 44 wards even though Council voted in September not to cut them.” said Emily Alfred, the Waste Campaigner for TEA. “Community Environment Days bring city services to every neighbourhood so you don’t need a car to drop off hazardous waste, or pick up free compost.”

Alfred predicted that the projected savings from eliminating 33 Environment Days (about $120,000) will be wiped out by new costs. “People who won’t have an Environment Day in their ward will call the Toxic Taxi or put it in the garbage. Either way, the cost will be more than the $120,000 saved.”

The Budget Committee also voted to eliminate collection of overflow recycling -- materials put out in clear bags when residents have more than can fit into their current blue bins. Alfred noted that the suggestion to instead deliver larger, or multiple, recycling bins to residents for free adds a significant cost to the City that wasn’t included in the budget.

“This makes no sense for taxpayers, for people who have excess recycling once or twice a year, or for households that don’t have the space for extra-large bins. It makes you wonder, then, why they are proposing this.”

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For more information:

Emily Alfred, Waste Campaigner – 416-596-0660
Heather Marshall, Toxics Campaigner – 416-596-0660

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TEA Media Release - Nov 11 - WaterWasteBudgets.pdf65.14 KB